Thursday, April 30, 2009

Moosylvania: what i've always envisioned for a church building

Grrrl Power

I mentioned in our Q Reflections how much i enjoyed Heather Larson from Willow Creek: she was intelligent, insightful, and keenly interested in assisting others through endeavors of social justice and mission.

Hearing Heather got me thinking about all the other great gals i admire, so i thought i'd throw a few names out there for others to investigate.

Here, then, are my girl heroes:

Nancy Ortberg - leadership guru, and wife of pastor John Ortberg...a great communicator with sharp awareness of how leadership actually works. Her latest book is Unleashing the power of Rubber Bands: lessons in non-linear leadership. You can buy it here.

Nancy Beach - worship/arts pioneer...has had a huge impact on worship ministry. Her latest book is Gifted to Lead and you can buy it here.

Margaret Feinberg - author...has a charming voice delving deeply into spiritual formation. The Sacred Echo (my favorite of her two books) can be purchased here.

Anne Lamott - my FAVORITE author on spiritual formation EVER...of her collection of "Christian" writings, my favorite is Traveling Mercies. Buy it here if you want life to suck less.

Sally Morgenthaler - THE preminant leader/speaker on alternative forms of worship. Worship Evangelism is perhaps the top-rated book on worship and the arts from the late-20th C. Buy it here.

Frederica Matthews-Green - this gal has some provocative things to say from an Eastern Orthodox perspective...i was introduced to her work by Len Sweet. Check out The Illuminated Heart here.

Dorothy Sayers - as an activist and common hero, Sayers' quotes litter all of my favorite authors...so naturally i've bought all her stuff and love her too. Most relevant maybe her book Are Women Human? Check it out here.

Mother Theresa - uhm...how can any list of modern female heroes NOT include Mother Theresa. Buy Come Be My Light here.


Now, i also have some historical gems that deserve to be noticed:

St Theresa of Avila (get the Way of Perfection)
Julian of Norwhich (get a Divine Revelation of Love)
Mechthild of Magdeburg (get the Flowing Light of the Godhead)

These last few, of course, are a little tougher to read, but they all focus on more mystical, sensual, and creation-oriented approaches to Spirituality.

anyway - hope this helps build out your lass library a little further.

D

Post-Q Reflections 1b: Why I think video venues are a non-issue

post-Q reflections 1: Why I think Shane Hipps is wrong about cell phones




I also found it funny that Shane Hipps - of all people - was one of the only people who chose to send text messages on his iphone during the session where Ted Haggard spoke vulnerably about his sin and fall from public ministry. Given Shane's comments about "being present" I thought this made for a comical irony.

books i read at Q

everything belongs, by richard rohr - this is one of the modern classics, something i'd never gotten around to reading. it was great. easy to understand, but with a wealth of insights into the interior life.

chrysalis, by alan jamieson - jamieson compares spiritual formation to the developmental stages of a caterpillar/butterfly. the book was fantastic, with real truth contextualized in ways that made sense.

a new christian manifesto, by bob eckblad - recommended to me by my friend paul hughes, this is a charimastic-activist-intellectual's best dream come true. at times thoughtful, disturbing, and provocative i'm really enjoying this book (got a couple chapters still to go)

everyone gets to play, by john wimber - this is just like "the way is in is the way on", full of stories about the late vineyard founder. read either, but not both.

the pearl gates of cyberspace, by margaret wertheim - excellent!! compares the internet to heaven, looks critically at our interactions in space...it's a bit academic for most folks, but very accessible for anyone who's been through college. absolutely fantastic read.

1&2 Corinthians - in preparation for today's lunch with tim and our ongoing biblical excavation.

Masked Superheroes Patrol Cincinnati Streets

real life twitter

Q Reflections Day 3

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mad Scientist

I've been thinking about how valuable it is to disagree. In fact, there are two important facets of disagreement: the way you disagree and the things with which you disagree.

As a lover and follower of Jesus Christ, I want to make sure the way I disagree honors Him...problem is, I tend to think that any disagreement is not-nice and therefore shy away from it. That's my sin, actually, wanting to be nice.

Anyway, the other thing I want to do as a lover and follower of Jesus Christ is disagree in specfic ways about specific things so that through my disagreements I can share insights with those around me.

Conferences always reinforce this for me...I go and hear a ton of stuff with which I disagree, and then - usually first with Jvo, then the staff, then the elders, then my friends, and sometimes with our church - process my disagreements.

I feel God convicting me of not disagreeing publicly enough...usually for fear that I cannot disagree in healthy ways. This, by the way, is usually why I don't blog any of the specifics of my disagreements (because I can't control who hears me and whether or not I can trust them to hear me generously).

But, I feel (increasingly) like God is calling me to be a kind of mad scientist...like some Christopher Lloyd who is out of sync with the larger community of flux-capacitor-manufacturers.

The world needs more mad scientists...But mad scientists like myself need to become increasingly attenuated to the Spirit and do what God is calling us to do instead of being shy and private with our burdens.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

prayer in fusion

God -

you brought Jesus back from the dead,
just as you have brought me back to life.

You brought the cosmos,
you brought the world,
and only you have the power to bring anything ever new.

"You are the only beginning we know."

Begin again in us - start here, start now, start with mercy.

Make the world new again, make the church new again, make us new and innocent.

start - before it is too late...

Amen.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

reasons people don't come to church

spider resurrections


Charles Q. Choi
for National Geographic News
April 24, 2009

Spiders in a lab twitched back to life hours after "drowning"—and the scientists were as surprised as anyone.

The bugs, it seems, enter comas to survive for hours underwater, according to a new study.



The unexpected discovery was made during investigations of spiders from salt marshes that are regularly flooded with seawater.

A number of spiders and insects have long been known to survive for hours underwater. But submersion experiments typically only test how long the bugs can withstand drowning—not whether they can revive themselves after their seeming deaths.

Scientists at the University of Rennes in France collected three species of wolf spider—two from salt marshes, one from a forest. The team immersed 120 females of each species in seawater, jostling the spiders with brushes every two hours to see if they responded.

As expected, all the forest wolf spiders (Pardosa lugubris) apparently died after 24 hours. The two salt marsh-dwelling species took longer—28 hours for Pardosa purbeckensis and 36 hours for Arctosa fulvolineata.

After the "drownings," the researchers, hoping to weigh the spiders later, left them out to dry. That's when things began to get weird.

Good as New

Hours later, the spiders began twitching and were soon back on their eight feet.

"This is the first time we know of arthropods returning to life from comas after submersion," said lead researcher Julien P├ętillon, an arachnologist now at Ghent University in Belgium.

Marsh-dwelling A. fulvolineata, which took longest to "die," typically requires about two hours to recover, the researchers discovered.

In the wild, the species doesn't avoid water during flooding, while the other salt marsh species generally climbs onto vegetation to avoid advancing water.

The spiders' survival trick depends on a switch to a metabolic process that does not require air, the researchers speculate.

(Related video: "Spider Kills Bat.")

Whatever trick these spiders have mastered, P├ętillon said, they may not be alone.

"There could be many other species that could do this that we do not know of yet."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

10 innovations in preaching

it's always struck me as odd how innovative we are in liturgy and/or music, but how staid we are in our oratory. to be fair, more than almost anything else, good oratory rises and falls on the connection of the speaker to the people - whether through charisma, persuasion, rhetoric, or illustration - but, there are a few things that most of us could try but don't.

here's a few that've worked out pretty well for me at the winds, back in my old college group, and/or in some of the other venues in which i've taught over the years. i don't use them all the time, but we i them all from time-to-time and it keeps things fresh.

#1 - team teach a sermon...sometimes people get deaf to one voice, so mixing it up is a good option. i like an A-B-A structure with the more familiar voice on either end, to ground the teaching for the people.

#2 - teach through sermon series based on a metaphor. this is a distinctly different approach than a series based off a tv show or a biblical book. find a metaphor that truthfully teaches a biblical concept and then unpack that metaphor each week. one the first week explain the metaphor, and every subsequent week go deeper and deeper into the biblical theology that makes the metaphor sound. by referring back to the metaphor, the "top-shelf" theology becomes really understandable for normal folks (instead of just bible geeks). a good example of this was our recent series at the winds called sin monkey (sinmonkey.info) where we said that everytime you sin it's like you've brought a pet monkey home to your house, and that monkey destroys all your stuff...so everyone needs to kill the monkey and fix their furniture (i.e. stop sinning and make restitution) in order to make things right.

#3 - create a teaching atlas...take some time and prepare all your sermons in manuscript form in advance of the series you'll be teaching on. add some original artwork (use deviantart.com or istockphoto.com if you're not "artsy"), some q&a (for any satellites/bible studies), and maybe some illustrations (to connect with right brained folk). it's a beastly amount of work, but a VERY useful tool.

#4 - create a cobblestone translation of a biblical book while teaching through that book...a cobblestone is a mashup of as many different english translations as possible. so 1.1 might be from NIV, while 1.2 is from ESV or NKJV etc. to make it all thread together well, do a little homework (with the NIV commentary series, for starters, if not something more substantial) and pick key terms and phrases that you translate personally and use everytime that phrase/word is used in the text. this is a fantastic way to dive deeply into the text, become familiar with the emphasis of all the english translations quickly, and have a little fun. i encourage our people to do one of their own, too, though maybe with only 3-4 versions (whereas i usually use 15+). note: please do not try and pass off your cobblestone as "just as good" as another translation...there are a lot of interpretational rules we're bending here, but provided we treat this as a devotional tool those rules really aren't too problematic.

#5 - use twitter more creatively than just for q&a...questions are cool, but other - cooler - versions of twitter use include an official "note-taker" or "quote-taker" that everyone call follow and copy, a silent reading guide that takes everyone through a guided meditation following the sermon, personal reflections from you (the teacher) after the sermon describing how you feel and what you sense God saying to you right then (in service, perhaps while the song following the teaching is still playing), etc. of course, all of this could be done privately (via iphones and pcs) or publicly (through screens and projections or tvs, etc), but i suggest that the broadcast medium be given equal consideration as the interactivity. my friend Jvo has some good ideas on twitter here.

#6 - break up the teaching into 5-8min segments....after all, not everyone connects well with oratory, so break it up into a few chunks and allow folks to digest morsels instead of meals. also, consider doing each part of the talk from a different location, with different lighting, and utilizing a different teaching technique - exegesis, metaphor, illustration, anecdote, etc.

#7 - have a scribe...this has become a more popular idea lately, but often it's too business-like. a scribe is someone who will artistically interpret what you're saying through illustrating relationships + keywords + main ideas + fantastic imaginings and implications. on a so-so day this looks like arrows and globes and cartoons, but in the bad-assest of worlds this includes new art, charcoal, live photoshop or livesync (as of yet to be tried at the winds), and something new and intriguing being brought into the world.

#8 - use a dancing partner/VJ...have someone mounted on motion dive or arkaos VJ finding and displaying google images, captured vids, etc and posting them while you teach. this can be distracting to thinkers but engaging for artists, so i'd suggest limiting the presentation to half or 1/3 of your screens and giving a kind of warning. the best experiences i've had with this have involved a sizeable chunk of preparation and someone i trust at the helm.

#9 - instead of using powerpoint (yuk) for displaying your notes/slides, have someone make a microsite in flash (get resources here) and use a little new cleverness in your design.

#10 - use a soundtrack...Jvo did a cool talk once where he went out and mined the soundtracks of famous films and timed their entry into his sermon. it was a cool way to connect people emotionally with the message and it was a lot of fun (and a lot of work)

#11 - use a video for which you are the narrator...we've all used video as an illustration, but here i'm referring to a film that's made specifically for you to talk over. get some stock film from istockvideo.com or barnafilms.com and create a landscape over which you can speak a mood or tone. this is a great backdrop for scripture readings, especially the prophetic pieces from the major prophets.

#12 - preach through an original story you've written/told...like cs lewis or jrr tolkien, use fiction to illustrate a point that may be too difficult to understand literally, or too tired to understand in a fresh way. for example, the same-old explanations for how the trinity works only get you so far...so why not write a story about a dance or something to bring new life into eternal theology?

#13 - bring in a guest for an interview via phone or skype...sometimes a friendly voice via cell phone can help illustrate something cool that you want to unpack in a new way. call a friend (whom you've prepped for this) and ask them your questions over the phone. let everyone listen in to their response.

#14 - preach through a lens...like wesley's reason: tradition: scripture: experience, or the four medieval lenses of literal: metaphorical: analogical: anagogical as a way to unpack the many layers of meaning in robust pieces of the word

#15 - use fictional stories (that you have NOT written) with which people are unfamiliar...i've used terry brooks' "sword of shannara," tokien's "children of hurin," and george rr martin's "song of ice and fire" as cool ways to re-contextualize the movement of the spirit in and around us. be careful not to canonize fiction, but be intentional about showing people godsigns in the culture when they show up. lots of preachers do this with popular tv shows, but i always feel like that's cheap and dirty...expose people to something unfamiliar and provocative, and see what happens when you do this wisely.

#16 - argue with historical personages...imagine a conversation with plato or aristotle or confucius concerning your teaching. study them and hypothesize their responses to christ - this is a good way to engage the thinkers.



...ok - that was more than 10 - but so many other things in life overpromise and underdeliver, i thought i'd add a few bonuses in case you thought some examples sucked.

cheers

D

the vancouver project


i'm always on the lookout for christological coolness back home, so i was geeked to see this project born out of a regent college residency. see the vancouver project here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

the legway - riding old skool

found this on boingboing...

Bart sends us this Instructable for a Legway: "A self balancing, human powered, steampunk styled, Segway. All you need is a brave self balancing human. This is the ultimate green vehicle for all you eco conscious steampunkers."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

innovation inspires complaint

the creation of a new life system often requires a specialized "container" because established systems are naturally hostile to the "other," the "outsider," the "alien." the normal chemistry of an adult human body would be toxic to an embryo, just as the mainstream culture of an organization is often toxic to the innovators it spawns. and when the organizational immune system kicks in, innovators often find themselves ignored, ostracized, or worse.

- taken from one of the classics, "presence" by peter senge

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

a response to a question about the historicity of jesus

i received a comment on the blog about the historicity of jesus, so i thought i'd give a brief answer (taken from the "dying for a fix" teaching atlas).






Jesus Christ lived and died in Palestine during the rule of Tiberius Caesar in a time/space known to historians as Second Temple Judaism.

The accounts of Jesus life are not mythological, though they are mystical;
they are not fabricated, though they have been woven into Time
and have reworked history around them;
they are not disputed by any serious historical or archaeological scholar
in the world today.

Contrary to what some folks have thought, the narratives of Jesus’ life and death – called the Gospels – were not clever works of hopeful, religious nonsense. When the Gospel stories were being written down for the first time they were read and proofed by people who’d been alive while Jesus taught and was executed. The Gospels endured because they were accurate and proven to be of good account quickly after the death of Jesus. In fact, compared with any similar document out of antiquity, the amount of proof that we have for the historicity of the Gospels (and, indeed, for all of the New Testament) is simply staggering.

The historicity of Jesus and the events surrounding the time of his life has been well established by early Roman Greek and Jewish sources. The New Testament mentions such historical facts as rulers, nations, people groups, political events, and the existence of Jesus. In addition, non-Christian historical sources such as Josephus confirm the accuracy of the Biblical text.

(click on chart to expand in window)


Because we have so many manuscripts and because those manuscripts are so close to the original writings in the New Testament, we can have great confidence in the historicity and authenticity of the biblical text.





hope that helps!

you've got to be kidding...

Photographer Terry O'Neill created this photo of Raquel Welch, crucified, for a "One Million Years BC" film poster...and i sorta wish he hadn't done that.

the cross can be many things - offensive, dangerous, humiliating, cruel, meaningful, beautiful-through-redemptive-suffering - but it is never

ever

supposed to be sexy.


best practices rag

Jvo and I, together with the staff at the winds, will be putting together a quarterly "best practices" magazine that we'll distribute to church leaders and influencers in the states, the great white north, jolly ole england, south africa, and oz.

we're doing this at the prompting of len sweet, who has been very vocal about our need to do a better job of resourcing the rest of the church world. in his words: no one is doing what you guys are doing, no one even knows what you guys are doing is what they should be doing.

ouch.

if you'd like to receive a copy of the rag, just send a quickie email to david.westwinds@gmail.com

cheers

D

flutter...so good

Sunday, April 12, 2009

most adorable robot ever

resurrection sermon (it looks long...)

DEATH DOESN’T LAST


CNN ran a crazy story this year about resurrection. Ria Ramkissoon, a member of the One Mind Ministries cult, was the mother of a 1yr old boy who starved to death while under her care. She was tried and convicted for criminal negligence but – and here’s where it gets weird – she plea-bargained herself an acquittal if her son resurrected.

That’s right – she believes that her son will rise from the dead and when he does Ramkissoon has successfully ensured that she will be set free from prison.

The accommodating judge was careful to make one stipulation, though:
the child must actually come back to life in a literal, physical, bodily resurrection not just some metaphorical I’m-the-tupil-that-used-to-be-an-infant-boy sort of reincarnation.

Actual, physical, resurrection.

Who’s ever heard of such a thing?


MATTHEW 28 NKJV
Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.

And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”

So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.

And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, saying, “Tell them, ‘His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.’ And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will appease him and make you secure.” So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Amen.



Jesus died.
He was buried.
He descended into Hell.
He rose again.

Jesus Christ came back from the dead –
not as a zombie or a vampire or some creature of Death
But in a new body, a resurrected body,
A body of evidence
A body of belief
A transphysical body that would satisfy
even the most stringent Maryland judge and jury.

This chapter focuses on the historical proof that the resurrection actually occurred. I do not intend much to discuss the meaning of the resurrection – that will be the focal point of every subsequent chapter – except to note that since it has happened and it is true then we can be assured (at the very least):

that Jesus’ claims to be God’s Son
and very God Himself
were true

and that God has not abandoned His project of humanity
or plan of salvation for this world.

There is, of course, some dispute about the resurrection. The controversy isn’t that Christ simply disappeared from within his stone tomb, but that he appeared over a dozen times to hundreds of people clustered in groups of varying size.

It isn’t about the body’s whereabouts,
but about Jesus’ activity in the world
as a real person after he was executed and buried.

Three days after Jesus’ was buried some very strange things began to happen. This strangeness was first noted by a collection of women who went to pay their respects to Jesus’ tomb…only to find it empty. Now, the reports in the Gospels differ slightly on the particulars (see ADDENDUM on the comparison of the resurrection accounts), but all of the Gospels sing the same basic song:

Joseph of Arimathea takes the body of Jesus,
puts it in a tomb,
the tomb is visited by a small group of women (followers of Jesus)
early on the Sunday morning after his execution,
and they find that the tomb is empty,
they see a vision of angels
declaring that Jesus has risen from the dead.

The inconsistencies that we see between the Gospel narratives lead to two conclusions.

First, since all the ill-fitting details are of secondary importance, we can still have great confidence in the historical worth of the evidence – the stories about the women visiting the tomb were, after all, written down by someone other than those women so its easy to understand how some minor details could get lost in translation (so to speak).

Second, since these inconsistencies exist, we can conclude that we’re dealing with multiple independent accounts of the same story – meaning, the Gospel writers weren’t just copying from each other here (otherwise the details would all line up perfectly), which indicates that the story of the empty tomb was widespread and accessible to those who did their journalistic research.

Don’t get stressed out about these secondary inconsistencies. No real historian would doubt the validity of the evidence just because of these little details.

For example, we have two competing, irreconcilable, and incompatible accounts of Hannibal crossing the Alps to sack Rome,
but no one doubts the truth of the fact
that the angry man and his elephants
blasted their way through the greatest Empire of antiquity.

One of the great proofs of Jesus’ resurrection concerns his actual grave site. When famous and inspirational people die, their graves are often venerated – think of Lenin, or Jim Morrison, or Napoleon, etc – but we have no evidence in 1st C Palestine for the veneration of Jesus’ tomb. It never became a shrine. None of his followers visited the grave after the resurrection because it had no interest for them. It was, after all, empty. Of course, empty graves are sometimes revered (like the flowering crosses family members leave on the side of the road where tragedy struck) but even Jesus’ empty grave was not revered. His followers simply understood that graves held no significance when it came to Christ. He was no longer dead.

Another interesting tidbit that points to the impact of the resurrection concerns the observation of the Sabbath. Up until the resurrection, the Jewish holy day was Saturday; but, once Jesus got out of the tomb on Sunday, Christians everywhere began to keep the first day of the week (rather than the last) as the day of corporate worship and the celebration of Christ’s victory over Death.

The most often cited proof of the resurrection, however, is the difference we see in the disciples. Peter, for example, showed himself to be a real coward by denying Christ at the crucifixion; but, something special happened to Peter and he changed his stripes – becoming a bold and provocative witness to the message of Jesus. Peter (as well as 10 of the other 11 disciples) was martyred for his faith, choosing to die upside down on a cross because he didn’t consider himself worthy to die in the exact manner of Jesus. Peter, and the other disciples, weren’t likely to run around and be martyred for something they’d made up – no, the resurrection was a fact and they acted upon it because they believed.

Some have raised a flimsy objection to the validity of the first eye-witnesses to the resurrected Christ, claiming that they were “unreliable.”

This is true.

The first witnesses were considered unreliable by Romans and Jews alike…because they were women. Women were not allowed to testify in court, and their witness was summarily dismissed. In my mind, the fact that the Gospels kept their story straight – that it was these “unreliable” women that first experienced the resurrected Jesus – is precisely what makes the accounts so reliable. If the Gospel writes wanted to make their case air-tight in the 1st Century, they would have abandoned the testimony of these women and gone with the testimony of John or Peter. Instead, the writers willingly endured scrutiny because they were compelled to tell the truth of what actually happened.

Incidentally, here is a quick list of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances as recorded in the New Testament, to help you better process the information I’m relying on:

• to Mary Magdalene, JOHN 20.10-18
• to the other women, MATTHEW 28.8-10
• to Cleopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus, LUKE 24.13-32
• to eleven disciples and others, LUKE 24.33-49
• to ten apostles and others (though, without Thomas), JOHN 20.19-23
• to Thomas and the other apostles, JOHN 20.26-30
• to seven apostles, JOHN 21.1-14
• to the disciples, MATTHEW 28.16-20
• to the apostles before his ascension, LUKE 24 + ACTS 1

There are additional references throughout the Book of Acts to other appearances of Jesus:

• Peter mentions these in ACTS 2.32, 3.15, and 10.41
• Paul mentions these in ACTS 13.31

Paul also mentions in 1 Corinthians 15.6 that on one occasion there were over 500 witnesses to the resurrected Christ, many of whom were still alive to verify this statement.

All told, if you were to line up the eyewitnesses at a trial and allow them each to be cross-examined for 15min about what they saw, you would have 129 hours of testimony.

The weight of this testimony has affected the American people (despite the widely held belief that only nutjobs and cakesniffers give it any credence).
For example, a 2000 poll conducted by Newsweek (see ADDENDUM) asked the question: do you believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead after dying on the Cross? Of those who answered, 88% of those who claimed to be Christians said “yes,” while 32% who claimed no faith at all answered “yes” as well. While that first number may seem discouraging, I actually find the 32% of “non-believers” to be stellar.

Why?

Because it shows that people are willing to believe
that a powerful God can –
and will –
act powerfully
that resurrection power is not so far fetched for deity as for Dateline
that the supernatural realm is real in ways we cannot yet fully appreciate
and we ought to tread lightly
whenever we encounter the possibility
that metaphysics and physics may collide.

Resurrection, by the way, has very little to do with Heaven (which does come as a surprise for many religious folks). We’ll talk about Heaven more later on, but for now let me simply state that bodily resurrection isn’t about going to Heaven when you die – as Bishop N.T. Wright has so helpfully reminded us through his scholarship over the last 20 years.

Resurrection is about coming out the other side of Death. It is the fundamental defeat of death, involving a four-stage process: life, death, life in the presence of God for a time, and then physical, bodily resurrection into new life.


Not life after death,
but life after life after death.
Bishop N.T. Wright


When my good friend Randy died this past Christmas, I had a difficult time reconciling the Theology of the Resurrection with my own feelings of loss. Certainly, I believed that Christ has conquered death – and I was fine to acknowledge that death comes to us all and had come now, too early though, to Randy – however I was definitely NOT fine emotionally. I was sad. I was disappointed that God hadn’t healed him. I remain disappointed. Having witnessed a sampling of miracles in my short life, I was eager for one more – for him, for his children, for Beth and his family, for Westwinds, for America, for 2008, for the internet, for my own sense of certainty in God’s present-day capacity to save… but it didn’t happen.

I’m not entirely sure, after living with cancer for two years, that Randy shared my ultimate disappointment. He held onto St. Paul’s words: to live is Christ, to die is gain.

He went well into the presence of God.

Reflecting often, as I have, on the death of Randy Shafer in light of the Death of Christ Jesus, it has come to me that the absolute defeat of Death isn’t really about undoing death at all. The opposite of death, after all, is not un-death but Life.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is about the fullest experience of life (now and again later). We must all embrace life fully and with the hope that what we do in this life matters now (and will, still, then). Randy and I both enjoy the same promise – that the work we did together in this world is not wasted, and that we will be doing this work together again in this world as it collides with Heaven in a new way later on.

I’ve found great comfort in that, and also a challenge to persist in my small efforts to heal the world.

What so many people – Christians in particular – seem to get wrong is that the resurrection is not some bit of Bible-nerdiness to be studied and memorized, it is a call to live differently. It is a mission statement. It is a prophetic critique of the world-as-it-is and a prophetic call for the kingdom of God to be present on earth as it is in heaven.


Thy will be done
Thy kingdom come
On earth as it is in Heaven
Jesus, in the Lord’s Prayer


The resurrection declares that Jesus really is God’s Son
That Jesus really is the Messiah,
the Savior the world has been waiting for
That Jesus really is Lord of Life and conqueror of Death
That Jesus is the One in whom
the One True God has made Himself known
and personally present in the world,
who has descended into our suffering –
the suffering we have caused,
that He has permitted,
that He now shares,
and over which He now triumphs
And Jesus does all of this while in skin
While enfleshed
While incarnated as the same kind of human as you and I are
The human made in God’s Image
The Image which has been perfected in Christ Jesus

The resurrection happened to one man, Jesus Christ,
but that one man acted as a representative for all the world
He was Israel’s Messiah
He is our Savior
And that means that the resurrection has,
in principle,
happened in and to us all.

The resurrection is a Life-giving act on the part of YHWH
The One True God
Who raised up Christ
Who always had the power to give Life and take it away
And now – after eons of waiting – the One God
YHWH
Had acted to keep His word
The Word of Life
In accordance with His ancient promise.

He comes back to judge those who judged Him
To reverse the role of criminal and court
And to remind the world that this perpetual love of Death cannot continue
That Life is available
And all who oppose it will fall.

Now, this idea of a coming judgment might sound harsh at first – but consider through the scriptures judgment is considered a good thing. Our world is full of evil – dictators, and sexual predators, and poverty, and famine – and it needs someone to fix it. Jesus comes as a Judge to fix the world.

Hence our title: Dying for a Fix.

He comes to Judge the world, to set all that’s wrong back to rights, and to restore the Peace of God to every corner of the Earth and in every human heart. The prototypical vision for this justice is found in ISAIAH 11:

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.

His delight is in the fear of the LORD,
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
And faithfulness the belt of His waist.

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea.


What a spectacle of justice – a dazzling and beautiful future hope!

But I digress. I want to get back to the historicity of the resurrection by refocusing on a couple of key things. First, it has always fascinated me that the resurrection actually happened and that there is proof for it. Though it’s tough to believe – after all, people typically stay dead – and though many smart people have sought to argue otherwise, all of the evidence available to us from both Christian and secular sources points towards resurrection. We’ll get into that more in a minute.

Second, it surprises me to learn that no one really expected Jesus to rise from the dead. The Hebrew expectations for a Messiah certainly did NOT include resurrection because resurrection necessitated death, which would have indicated utter failure. Neither did their beliefs about the resurrection coincide with what happened to Jesus – they expected a general resurrection at the end of time, not an individual resurrection in the middle of it. Neither did Jesus’ disciples fully understand him when he spoke prophetically about his death and resurrection – scripture seems to indicate that they just didn’t get it. Again, we’ll take more about this later on (and much more about the Jewish concept of resurrection in subsequent chapters), but I was very surprised at precisely how uncommon a belief resurrection truly was in the ancient world.

Lastly, I’m struck that the resurrection of Jesus means infinitely more than just Jesus being God’s son (which he was), and very God Himself (which he was), and that his teachings and miracles were valid (which they were)…briefly,
the resurrection means that God’s plan to heal the world has been put into effect,
that we are able and responsible to cooperate with him in that plan,
and that the remarkable power of the Spirit is alive in us
and working to accomplish that plan through us.

I know that – no matter how compelling a case may have been made – it is hard to accept that Jesus actually got up from his grave. After all, in real life people just don’t do that… but we must remember that this is exactly how people would have felt in the first century – nobody believed in literal, physical, bodily resurrection then any more than we do now. The only way anyone came to believe in it was by letting the evidence speak to them and by making up their own minds based on the weight of that evidence.


Faith cannot be forced,
But unfaith can be challenged.
Bishop N.T. Wright


In order to believe that it’s even possible for Jesus to have been raised from the dead requires us to shift our entire perspective on the world. It requires us to swap out a worldview that leans on science and rationalism and measurable, repeatable, processes…for a worldview that acknowledges there is more to this life than what we can see with our nude eyes or measure in our remarkable laboratories.

This world is an onion, and we must be willing to accept that there are layers beneath what we think we know about that which is impossible.

After all, if it is possible that there is a God, then it’s no problem at all to believe that God is powerful enough to interrupt history and raise Christ from the dead.

I know that this is, scientifically, a difficult pill to swallow…like trying to choke down a yak…but we are not dealing with a scientific issue. We are dealing with an historical one. Science deals with things that can be repeated, under the right conditions, through controlled experimentation. History is full of unthinkable things that have happened once and once only.

Scientifically the resurrection is untenable. Historically it is sound.

If you choose to look at the evidence as a scientist you may never believe.

If you choose to look at the evidence as historical proof,
I have no doubt that you will.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

ever wonder why easter sucks as a holiday?

Ever wonder why Easter sucks as a holiday?

Thanksgiving is great
– food, backyard football, food, naps, the family you like, etc.

Hallowe’en is superb
– dressing up, candy, scaring kids at the door, The Great Pumpkin, etc.

And Christmas, of course, couldn’t be better
– Jolly ole St. Nick, Silent Night, bags of presents and mushy mandarin oranges.

But Easter…well, Easter just doesn’t have the same market share. You can’t commercialize Christ on a Cross and the bunny just hasn’t panned out that well.

That may be why Easter isn’t as big a deal in the malls and on the dazzling screens…because the mystery of Christ’s death (and the brutal and wonderful way he reunites us with God) is simply too powerful to be co-opted by the media and capitalized on by investors.

Easter is about something so mysterious it cannot be reduced to trinkets and charms and still feel like Easter.

Easter is about something so incredible it cannot be appreciated properly without incredible study and devotion.

Easter is about something so transcendent it cannot be gotten hold of – not wholly, even with an understanding that it concerns a past action, with present context, and future consequence.

Yes – Easter is about something that happened. Jesus of Nazareth really was an historical person who really was executed by the Roman Empire for sedition and whose followers really did proclaim that he had been resurrected into a new body and who founded the Church on the basis of that belief.

Yes – Easter is about something that is still happening. Christ’s followers are still proclaiming that there is a force stronger than Death, more powerful than the grave, and that force – that resurrection power – is at work in the world through God the Holy Spirit.

Yes – Easter is about something that will happen. It is about the future hope of Christ-followers who understand that there will come a time when every wrong is put back to rights, when God’s Kingdom will permeate and transform this world into a new one and that we will also received new bodies just as Christ did.

Sound too weird? Too fantastical?

That’s fine – you’re welcome to continue petting bunnies and sucking on eggs – but I have to caution you not to suspend belief before you willingly suspend disbelief.

catch this next series at the winds – the first few weeks explore the historical and archaeological proofs for the resurrection, as well as the social and interpersonal ramifications of Jesus’ return. The next few weeks explore bits and pieces of the giant significance that the resurrection contains for every lover and follower of Jesus.

Trust me when I tell you – we’re just scratching the surface here,
But we live in an itchy world
And I think this may bring some relief.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

bailout

Angry after it burned through over $100 billion in stimulus money with nothing to show
for itself, President Obama ordered GM to be pressed into a cube
and set adrift off the coast of Maine.

Monday, April 06, 2009

an inoculation against death

so, you've seen the artwork we're not using for our easter/resurrection series (here), but i had the coolest conversation with my 5yr old this morning when he happened to see it (it's currently occupying pride-of-place as my desktop background).


* * * * *


jake: daddy, is that man being inoculated? (no lie...my son really did use that word :)

me: uh...yes, yes he is.

jake: for what?

me: what does that word on the needle say?

jake: life.

me: what would life inoculate you from?

jake: not dying. life makes you not die.

me: right. now, what's on the needle?

jake: jesus on the cross. he died, but then he came back from the dead.

me: right. jesus is the inoculation against death.

jake: like medicine? jesus is life medicine?

me: yes, absolutely.

jake: what does that mean? he died...but then he rose up and wasn't dead anymore? is that it?

me: yes - he defeated death. he died, but that was all that death could do - kill him...then jesus kept on working and he came to new life but death couldn't do anything else to him.

jake: that's why?

me: that's why he's the life medicine. that' s why we love jesus - because he takes away our fear of dying and promises to bring us back to new life again too.

jake: like with uncle randy?

me: yes - like with uncle randy. one day, we're all going to be together again.


* * * * *


so, yeah - obviously the work i did on this piece wasn't wasted, even though it wasn't ultimately of use to the winds. i feel lucky to be part of God's work in my son, and in me, and in His church.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

fully modular toys

found this while reading through one of my design rags...it's a new kind of lego that allows kids to make several hundred different "monsters" out of the components.

the best part? company philosophy: toys are meant to be played with...unless the toy itself is interactive (not just what the toy does, but what it is) it's not really a toy, but a prop.

Kung Faux

Just watched the latest in a series of exploitAsian films...the mummy curse of the dragon empereor

The movie, of course, was dumb but enjoyable...more interesting, though, was how Hollywood's current love affair with all things Eastern had even infiltrated their take on an Egyptian mythology.

The 70's had blaxploitation, and our counterpart in the ots is not Shaft but Dragonball Z and the Furious Five.

Watch for more white girls in kimonos and california surfers to weild bo staffs in the just-beginning-to-catch-a-ride-on-the-jade-dragon money train

Coming soon to a Mann Theatre near you

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Friday, April 03, 2009

jesus loves you...ish

Tesla Motors: The company we SHOULD give Billions to

found this via theweblist.net (my home page)


Wed Apr 01, 2009 at 07:44:31 PM PDT

After all the recent talks about the collapse of GM there was one relatively little noticed piece of news which I thought needed some attention. American Car Company Announces 4 door electirc sedan

You see there is an American Automotive company which I feel should be getting the investments that these Detroit dinosaurs are currently getting. That company is Tesla Motors and they have an amazing new Sedan which is 100% green technology and could beginning of the future for electric cars. With the right investment that is.

Why don't we take a huge chunk of those BILLIONS we are throwing at GM et. al. and throw them to a company which is at the forefront of design and technology which could wean us away from foreign oil, and move us in the Green direction?

Lets take a look at Tesla's newest offering:

The Model S

Tell me this is not a sexy car that you wouldn't be proud to own and sport around town? Its range before recharge? 300 miles!

I remember when I was working as an advertising executive for a small yellow pages firm back home, I used to have to travel all over the county meeting clients and making sales pitches. I dont think I EVER drove more than 300 miles in a day.

How long to recharge? 4 hours on a regular 220V plug. If you get a home 480V outlet you can charge this baby up in just 45 minutes.

The current cost? That is the part that would need serious government and private investment to bring down (the former would encourage the latter):
around 50,000 dollars.

If the US Government was serious about "going Green" and building a 21st century transportation infrastructure why not invest in a company which could be scaled UP right now, creating high paying manufacturing jobs and helping the environment in one fell swoop?

For more info on the Model S see here

lausanne movement

hadn't heard of this...which seems like an odd one to miss...


NTRODUCTION

We, members of the Church of Jesus Christ, from more than 150 nations, participants in the International Congress on World Evangelization at Lausanne, praise God for his great salvation and rejoice in the fellowship he has given us with himself and with each other. We are deeply stirred by what God is doing in our day, moved to penitence by our failures and challenged by the unfinished task of evangelization. We believe the Gospel is God's good news for the whole world, and we are determined by his grace to obey Christ's commission to proclaim it to all mankind and to make disciples of every nation. We desire, therefore, to affirm our faith and our resolve, and to make public our covenant.

1. THE PURPOSE OF GOD

We affirm our belief in the one-eternal God, Creator and Lord of the world, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who governs all things according to the purpose of his will. He has been calling out from the world a people for himself, and sending his people back into the world to be his servants and his witnesses, for the extension of his kingdom, the building up of Christ's body, and the glory of his name. We confess with shame that we have often denied our calling and failed in our mission, by becoming conformed to the world or by withdrawing from it. Yet we rejoice that even when borne by earthen vessels the gospel is still a precious treasure. To the task of making that treasure known in the power of the Holy Spirit we desire to dedicate ourselves anew.

(Isa. 40:28; Matt. 28:19; Eph. 1:11; Acts 15:14; John 17:6, 18; Eph 4:12; 1 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 12:2; II Cor. 4:7)

2. THE AUTHORITY AND POWER OF THE BIBLE

We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice. We also affirm the power of God's word to accomplish his purpose of salvation. The message of the Bible is addressed to all men and women. For God's revelation in Christ and in Scripture is unchangeable. Through it the Holy Spirit still speaks today. He illumines the minds of God's people in every culture to perceive its truth freshly through their own eyes and thus discloses to the whole Church ever more of the many-colored wisdom of God.

(II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:21; John 10:35; Isa. 55:11; 1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 1:16, Matt. 5:17,18; Jude 3; Eph. 1:17,18; 3:10,18)

3. THE UNIQUENESS AND UNIVERSALITY OF CHRIST
We affirm that there is only one Saviour and only one gospel, although there is a wide diversity of evangelistic approaches. We recognise that everyone has some knowledge of God through his general revelation in nature. But we deny that this can save, for people suppress the truth by their unrighteousness. We also reject as derogatory to Christ and the gospel every kind of syncretism and dialogue which implies that Christ speaks equally through all religions and ideologies. Jesus Christ, being himself the only God-man, who gave himself as the only ransom for sinners, is the only mediator between God and people. There is no other name by which we must be saved. All men and women are perishing because of sin, but God loves everyone, not wishing that any should perish but that all should repent. Yet those who reject Christ repudiate the joy of salvation and condemn themselves to eternal separation from God. To proclaim Jesus as "the Saviour of the world" is not to affirm that all people are either automatically or ultimately saved, still less to affirm that all religions offer salvation in Christ. Rather it is to proclaim God's love for a world of sinners and to invite everyone to respond to him as Saviour and Lord in the wholehearted personal commitment of repentance and faith. Jesus Christ has been exalted above every other name; we long for the day when every knee shall bow to him and every tongue shall confess him Lord.

(Gal. 1:6-9;Rom. 1:18-32; I Tim. 2:5,6; Acts 4:12; John 3:16-19; II Pet. 3:9; II Thess. 1:7-9;John 4:42; Matt. 11:28; Eph. 1:20,21; Phil. 2:9-11)

4. THE NATURE OF EVANGELISM
To evangelize is to spread the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that as the reigning Lord he now offers the forgiveness of sins and the liberating gifts of the Spirit to all who repent and believe. Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand. But evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God. In issuing the gospel invitation we have no liberty to conceal the cost of discipleship. Jesus still calls all who would follow him to deny themselves, take up their cross, and identify themselves with his new community. The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into his Church and responsible service in the world.

(I Cor. 15:3,4; Acts 2: 32-39; John 20:21; I Cor. 1:23; II Cor. 4:5; 5:11,20; Luke 14:25-33; Mark 8:34; Acts 2:40,47; Mark 10:43-45)

5. CHRISTIAN SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all men. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men and women from every kind of oppression. Because men and women are made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited. Here too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive. Although reconciliation with other people is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist. When people receive Christ they are born again into his kingdom and must seek not only to exhibit but also to spread its righteousness in the midst of an unrighteous world. The salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.

(Acts 17:26,31; Gen. 18:25; Isa. 1:17; Psa. 45:7; Gen. 1:26,27; Jas. 3:9; Lev. 19:18; Luke 6:27,35; Jas. 2:14-26; Joh. 3:3,5; Matt. 5:20; 6:33; II Cor. 3:18; Jas. 2:20)

6. THE CHURCH AND EVANGELISM
We affirm that Christ sends his redeemed people into the world as the Father sent him, and that this calls for a similar deep and costly penetration of the world. We need to break out of our ecclesiastical ghettos and permeate non-Christian society. In the Church's mission of sacrificial service evangelism is primary. World evangelization requires the whole Church to take the whole gospel to the whole world. The Church is at the very centre of God's cosmic purpose and is his appointed means of spreading the gospel. But a church which preaches the cross must itself be marked by the cross. It becomes a stumbling block to evangelism when it betrays the gospel or lacks a living faith in God, a genuine love for people, or scrupulous honesty in all things including promotion and finance. The church is the community of God's people rather than an institution, and must not be identified with any particular culture, social or political system, or human ideology.

(John 17:18; 20:21; Matt. 28:19,20; Acts 1:8; 20:27; Eph. 1:9,10; 3:9-11; Gal. 6:14,17; II Cor. 6:3,4; II Tim. 2:19-21; Phil. 1:27)

7. COOPERATION IN EVANGELISM
We affirm that the Church's visible unity in truth is God's purpose. Evangelism also summons us to unity, because our oneness strengthens our witness, just as our disunity undermines our gospel of reconciliation. We recognize, however, that organisational unity may take many forms and does not necessarily forward evangelism. Yet we who share the same biblical faith should be closely united in fellowship, work and witness. We confess that our testimony has sometimes been marred by a sinful individualism and needless duplication. We pledge ourselves to seek a deeper unity in truth, worship, holiness and mission. We urge the development of regional and functional cooperation for the furtherance of the Church's mission, for strategic planning, for mutual encouragement, and for the sharing of resources and experience.

(John 17:21,23; Eph. 4:3,4; John 13:35; Phil. 1:27; John 17:11-23)

8. CHURCHES IN EVANGELISTIC PARTNERSHIP
We rejoice that a new missionary era has dawned. The dominant role of western missions is fast disappearing. God is raising up from the younger churches a great new resource for world evangelization, and is thus demonstrating that the responsibility to evangelise belongs to the whole body of Christ. All churches should therefore be asking God and themselves what they should be doing both to reach their own area and to send missionaries to other parts of the world. A reevaluation of our missionary responsibility and role should be continuous. Thus a growing partnership of churches will develop and the universal character of Christ's Church will be more clearly exhibited. We also thank God for agencies which labor in Bible translation, theological education, the mass media, Christian literature, evangelism, missions, church renewal and other specialist fields. They too should engage in constant self-examination to evaluate their effectiveness as part of the Church's mission.

(Rom. 1:8; Phil. 1:5; 4:15; Acts 13:1-3, I Thess. 1:6-8)

9. THE URGENCY OF THE EVANGELISTIC TASK
More than 2,700 million people, which is more than two-thirds of all humanity, have yet to be evangelised. We are ashamed that so many have been neglected; it is a standing rebuke to us and to the whole Church. There is now, however, in many parts of the world an unprecedented receptivity to the Lord Jesus Christ. We are convinced that this is the time for churches and para-church agencies to pray earnestly for the salvation of the unreached and to launch new efforts to achieve world evangelization. A reduction of foreign missionaries and money in an evangelised country may sometimes be necessary to facilitate the national church's growth in self-reliance and to release resources for unevangelised areas. Missionaries should flow ever more freely from and to all six continents in a spirit of humble service. The goal should be, by all available means and at the earliest possible time, that every person will have the opportunity to hear, understand, and to receive the good news. We cannot hope to attain this goal without sacrifice. All of us are shocked by the poverty of millions and disturbed by the injustices which cause it. Those of us who live in affluent circumstances accept our duty to develop a simple life-style in order to contribute more generously to both relief and evangelism.

(John 9:4; Matt. 9:35-38; Rom. 9:1-3; I Cor. 9:19-23; Mark 16:15; Isa. 58:6,7; Jas. 1:27; 2:1-9; Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 2:44,45; 4:34,35)

10. EVANGELISM AND CULTURE
The development of strategies for world evangelization calls for imaginative pioneering methods. Under God, the result will be the rise of churches deeply rooted in Christ and closely related to their culture. Culture must always be tested and judged by Scripture. Because men and women are God's creatures, some of their culture is rich in beauty and goodness. Because they are fallen, all of it is tainted with sin and some of it is demonic. The gospel does not presuppose the superiority of any culture to another, but evaluates all cultures according to its own criteria of truth and righteousness, and insists on moral absolutes in every culture. Missions have all too frequently exported with the gospel an alien culture and churches have sometimes been in bondage to culture rather than to Scripture. Christ's evangelists must humbly seek to empty themselves of all but their personal authenticity in order to become the servants of others, and churches must seek to transform and enrich culture, all for the glory of God.

(Mark 7:8,9,13; Gen. 4:21,22; I Cor. 9:19-23; Phil. 2:5-7; II Cor. 4:5)

11. EDUCATION AND LEADERSHIP
We confess that we have sometimes pursued church growth at the expense of church depth, and divorced evangelism from Christian nurture. We also acknowledge that some of our missions have been too slow to equip and encourage national leaders to assume their rightful responsibilities. Yet we are committed to indigenous principles, and long that every church will have national leaders who manifest a Christian style of leadership in terms not of domination but of service. We recognise that there is a great need to improve theological education, especially for church leaders. In every nation and culture there should be an effective training programme for pastors and laity in doctrine, discipleship, evangelism, nurture and service. Such training programmes should not rely on any stereotyped methodology but should be developed by creative local initiatives according to biblical standards.

(Col. I:27,28; Acts 14:23; Tit. 1:5,9; Mark 10:42-45; Eph. 4:11,12)

12. SPIRITUAL CONFLICT
We believe that we are engaged in constant spiritual warfare with the principalities and powers of evil, who are seeking to overthrow the Church and frustrate its task of world evangelization. We know our need to equip ourselves with God's armour and to fight this battle with the spiritual weapons of truth and prayer. For we detect the activity of our enemy, not only in false ideologies outside the Church, but also inside it in false gospels which twist Scripture and put people in the place of God. We need both watchfulness and discernment to safeguard the biblical gospel. We acknowledge that we ourselves are not immune to worldliness of thoughts and action, that is, to a surrender to secularism. For example, although careful studies of church growth, both numerical and spiritual, are right and valuable, we have sometimes neglected them. At other times, desirous to ensure a response to the gospel, we have compromised our message, manipulated our hearers through pressure techniques, and become unduly preoccupied with statistics or even dishonest in our use of them. All this is worldly. The Church must be in the world; the world must not be in the Church.

(Eph. 6:12; II Cor. 4:3,4; Eph. 6:11,13-18; II Cor. 10:3-5; I John 2:18-26; 4:1-3; Gal. 1:6-9; II Cor. 2:17; 4:2; John 17:15)

13. FREEDOM AND PERSECUTION
It is the God-appointed duty of every government to secure conditions of peace, justice and liberty in which the Church may obey God, serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and preach the gospel without interference. We therefore pray for the leaders of nations and call upon them to guarantee freedom of thought and conscience, and freedom to practise and propagate religion in accordance with the will of God and as set forth in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We also express our deep concern for all who have been unjustly imprisoned, and especially for those who are suffering for their testimony to the Lord Jesus. We promise to pray and work for their freedom. At the same time we refuse to be intimidated by their fate. God helping us, we too will seek to stand against injustice and to remain faithful to the gospel, whatever the cost. We do not forget the warnings of Jesus that persecution is inevitable.

(I Tim. 1:1-4, Acts 4:19; 5:29; Col. 3:24; Heb. 13:1-3; Luke 4:18; Gal. 5:11; 6:12; Matt. 5:10-12; John 15:18-21)

14. THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Father sent his Spirit to bear witness to his Son; without his witness ours is futile. Conviction of sin, faith in Christ, new birth and Christian growth are all his work. Further, the Holy Spirit is a missionary spirit; thus evangelism should arise spontaneously from a Spirit-filled church. A church that is not a missionary church is contradicting itself and quenching the Spirit. Worldwide evangelization will become a realistic possibility only when the Spirit renews the Church in truth and wisdom, faith, holiness, love and power. We therefore call upon all Christians to pray for such a visitation of the sovereign Spirit of God that all his fruit may appear in all his people and that all his gifts may enrich the body of Christ. Only then will the whole church become a fit instrument in his hands, that the whole earth may hear his voice.

(I Cor. 2:4; John 15:26;27; 16:8-11; I Cor. 12:3; John 3:6-8; II Cor. 3:18; John 7:37-39; I Thess. 5:19; Acts 1:8; Psa. 85:4-7; 67:1-3; Gal. 5:22,23; I Cor. 12:4-31; Rom. 12:3-8)

15. THE RETURN OF CHRIST
We believe that Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly, in power and glory, to consummate his salvation and his judgment. This promise of his coming is a further spur to our evangelism, for we remember his words that the gospel must first be preached to all nations. We believe that the interim period between Christ's ascension and return is to be filled with the mission of the people of God, who have no liberty to stop before the end. We also remember his warning that false Christs and false prophets will arise as precursors of the final Antichrist. We therefore reject as a proud, self-confident dream the notion that people can ever build a utopia on earth. Our Christian confidence is that God will perfect his kingdom, and we look forward with eager anticipation to that day, and to the new heaven and earth in which righteousness will dwell and God will reign forever. Meanwhile, we rededicate ourselves to the service of Christ and of people in joyful submission to his authority over the whole of our lives.

(Mark 14:62; Heb. 9:28; Mark 13:10; Acts 1:8-11; Matt. 28:20; Mark 13:21-23; John 2:18; 4:1-3; Luke 12:32; Rev. 21:1-5; II Pet. 3:13; Matt. 28:18)

CONCLUSION
Therefore, in the light of this our faith and our resolve, we enter into a solemn covenant with God and with each other, to pray, to plan and to work together for the evangelization of the whole world. We call upon others to join us. May God help us by his grace and for his glory to be faithful to this our covenant! Amen, Alleluia!

artwork - take 2

this'll be the basic template we work with. still grabby, but not likely to send any children screaming into the arms of their horrified parents.

jvo and i on bart hawley

i'm the good-looking one on the right.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

not gonna work

after a little personal deliberation, i just don't think this will work. i like it - a lot - and i don't mind if a few church folks get ruffled feathers...but i don't believe that every parent will end up sitting down every impressionable child and explain to them what the image is really about. and i don't want to be responsible for normalizing heroine in the mind of a little kid.

anyway - here it is




Wednesday, April 01, 2009

early version artwork

ok - our series on the resurrection is called "dying for a fix." i had an artist lined up to do our artwork, but then he flaked out on me. in between writing the atlas, i've been fiddling with the artwork, trying to get an appropriate look and feel.

which is hard.

because the facts of the crucifixion are brutal, while the truths of the resurrection are powerful.

brutal + powerful.

those are the words this artwork has to evoke in order to be faithful to the Gospel.

however, brutal + powerful are not good church-y words. they're not good family words.

of course, i don't typically shy away from controversy; but i don't really want to bludgeon people with my lack of sensitivity either.

brutal + powerful.

i'll show you something tomorrow.

yes.

Sports Videos, News, Blogs

love your enemies

found this on a link from the same site, to a flickr gallery called "not art. gospel." cool beans

christ-in-cats


have been working on some art for the next series and @dlcrawford sent me a link to a site with this image...badness